Flyers need Mets-like collapse from Devils; Biron to face Florida; prospect signed

    The Flyers' chances of overtaking the Atlantic-Division leading New Jersey Devils?

    Very slim _ unless the Devils resemble the New York Mets and fold down the stretch.

   The Flyers trail the Devils by seven points, but John Stevens' team has a game in hand.

   If the Flyers go 8-2 the rest of the way, they would win the title if the Devils went 4-5 _ or worse.

   If the Flyers go 7-3, they would need the Devils to go 3-6. Et cetera.

   The Flyers have 10 games left, including two each against Florida, the New York Islanders, the New York Rangers and Toronto. They also have games against Boston and Ottawa. Out of that group, only the Rangers and Bruins would qualify for the playoffs if the season ended today.

   The Devils have a more difficult schedule, but it would take a mini-collapse for them to finish behind the Flyers. New Jersey has nine games remaining, including five against current playoff qualifiers. New Jersey faces Chicago, Carolina (twice), the Rangers and Penguins, along with less-troublesome Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Toronto and Ottawa.

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   Sizzling goalie Marty Biron, who is 6-2 with a 2.17 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage in his last eight starts, will face visiting Florida on Thursday. About 400 tickets remain, and it will be Scott Hartnell Wig Night. 

   Florida is a desperate team that is within an eyelash of a playoff spot. The Flyers defeated the Panthers, 3-2, in a Jan. 16 shootout, then dropped a 3-2 decision to Florida on Jan. 27. Both games were in South Florida.

   Simon Gagne leads the Flyers with two goals in the season series, The Flyers own a 35-19-7-2 record in 63 lifetime contests against Florida, including a 13-10-6-2 mark on home ice.

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  Flyers prospect Mario Kempe has signed an amateur tryout contract with the AHL Phantoms, according to club general manager Paul Holmgren. 

  Kempe, selected by the Flyers in the fifth round (122d overall) of the 2007 NHL draft, will make his Wachovia Spectrum debut Friday when the Phantoms open a three-game weekend homestand against Toronto. They will have matchups with Grand Rapids on Saturday and Sunday.